Pappu alias Suresh Kalani, a prominent politician in Ulhasnagar despite his criminal background, formally joined the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Friday.
Kalani has been associated with the NCP for the last 15 years, supporting the party directly or indirectly at different times in the industrial township. Kalani officially joined the NCP on a day his wife was elected as the president of the party’s city unit for the fourth consecutive time.
The Ulhasnagar strongman’s entry into the NCP is an indication that his hold over the region is likely to remain unchallenged for now, and national parties like the NCP are looking at reintroducing him into active politics.
Kalani had spent the nine years from 1992 to 2001 in jail on murder charges. However, he is believed to have controlled his empire from behind the bars. He contested and won two elections from jail. Since his release, Kalani has been controlling the reigns through his wife Jyoti Kalani, who is the NCP’s city president.
Refuting allegations that the party was formally supporting criminal elements, NCP state secretary Pramod Hindurao said, “NCP’s membership drive is going on and anyone can become a member. Kalani was made a primary member of the party.” Hindurao added that the membership was yet to be confirmed by the state party president.
NCP state party president Madhukar Pichad said he had heard reports that Kalani had paid fees to become an active member of the party, but refused comment on the issue till he got a report from Hindurao.